Israeli President Shimon Peres appeared in contemplative mood on Israel’s 64th Independence Day, April 25, bemoaning the power of the boycott movement in an interview in Maariv.
After listing Israel’s huge achievements, Peres mused on why such a successful nation should seek peace. Not, evidently, because peace is good for humanity, that would be just silly. No. Israel should seek peace:
“Because if Israel’s image gets worse, it will begin to suffer boycotts. There is already an artistic boycott against us — they won’t let Habimah Theatre enter London — and signs of an undeclared financial boycott are beginning to emerge.”
The good president actually slightly overestimates the success of the BDS campaign against the presence of the Israeli National Theatre at the Globe-to-Globe festival, though it has made great strides.
But within hours of publication of his Maariv interview, Peres’s words seemed quite prophetic.
That very day, delegates to the Annual Conference of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the umbrella group for every trade union in Scotland, voted unanimously for a range of resolutions condemning Israeli apartheid, including supporting the StoptheJNF campaign to expose the role of the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund).
Then on Friday April 27, tireless work from BDS activists paid off massively with the decision of the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, The Co-operative Group, to “no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements”.
The Co-op’s decision, notified to campaigners in a statement, will immediately impact four suppliers, Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel’s largest agricultural export company.
Coverage of this major development spread rapidly in the British and Israeli media. The Guardian’s coverage, which for a time was the second most viewed item on its website, relied heavily on the statement put out by the Boycott Israel Network.